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I blog about my Catholic faith, my prayer life, good books and good movies.

My Fight With Acedia

Abigail Benjamin

I feel myself coming out of this long, slow stupor. It's acedia. It's the sin of spiritual sloth where I feel like there is nothing in my life but a long, dull list of meaningless activities.

Monks and nuns get acedia. So do writers. Stay at home mothers suffer from acedia also.

Acedia affects people who live a life of solitude. Solitude sounds boring but it is so critical for the full development of the human personality. Innovation requires courage and solitude. Healing requires solitude. Growth requires solitude. Even more social virtues like Leadership requires solitude. (A good leader is someone who knows herself and is unafraid of social rejection. That attachment to a strong inner voice and a detachment from what the world thinks is a quality that is best grown in solitude.)

Stillness is often boring. I want the peace that inner stillness brings but I hate doing the work to get there.

At 40, I'm tempted to look around and think "Everyone else is having more fun than me! There has got to be an easier way to live."

The cure for my acedia, is not for me to do less work. I don't need to hire a baby sitter. I don't need to take on a part-time job. I don't need more date nights, or parties, or coffee dates in Georgetown.

The cure for my acedia is to dig deeper into my daily routine and become more present in my work. I need to ask God to restore my youthful enthusiasm for my choice of a lifetime project. I need to glory my small, but "undelegatable" work.

What I found from this prayer for God to help with acedia is a new understanding of my individuality and self-worth.

I don't have to be wild and creative in my choices of writing, or housecleaning, or mothering. My work is already wild and creative because I'm a unique individual doing the work. I do my work for something, or rather, for someone.

When I'm clear about why I'm working each day, the work becomes easy.

There are not enough good, calm, cheerful and supportive homes for young artists to grow up inside the First World, so my husband and I made one.

There are not enough beautiful, clear, and spiritually calm websites out there, so I made one.

There are not enough clean, organic, and fruitful gardens in my town, so my husband and I planted one.

The best garden I plant each day is inside my heart. It's slow work, most days. Yet if I take time to feed myself first each day, I'm shock at how little my daily routine feels like dull work.